World première: first hydrogen passenger train in Germany
French train builder Alstom, currently to be merged with German Siemens, has obtained green light from the German Railway Office (EBA) on Wednesday to put a hydrogen passenger train on the rails in September. A world première that might offer an alternative for diesel trains on non-electrified lines.
Following the homologation by the EBA, Alstom will set up a pilot with two prototype trains on the Elbe-Weser network. Passengers will be allowed from late summer on.
14 hydrogen trains ordered
In November 2017 Alstom signed a contract with the Lower Saxony region in the northwest of Germany for the delivery of 14 Cordia iLint hydrogen passenger trains. They will offer a regular service from December 2021 on between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude.
The Cordia iLint is based on Alstom’s successful Cordia Lint series of diesel passenger trains for regional transport. The diesel propulsion is replaced by an electrical one, fed by an array of fuel cells on the roof of the train, where also the hydrogen tanks are mounted.
Just steam and water
The train has the same performances as its diesel counterpart with a top speed of 140 kph and comparable accelerating and stopping power. It has a range of 800 km without refueling. Contrary to the diesel train, it emits no CO2, NOx or harmful particles. Just steam and water.
The hydrogen train was developed by Alstom in its German competence center for regional trains in Salzgitter, with the electric propulsion system designed by its traction center in Tarbes (France). Alstom got a 8 million euro subsidy by the German government’s National Program for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology.
Dutch railways to experiment too
The German pilot will be followed with interest by several countries, like the Netherlands, where Dutch railways will conduct a first practical trial on the Leeuwarden-Groningen railway later on.
In Belgium the region of the Ghent harbour, between Ghent and Zelzate, only has a railway line with diesel trains for transporting goods. Political party Open Vld would like to have a railway connection for passengers too, but would rather prefer a ‘green’ alternative: hydrogen trains.